In a historic moment, the Rajya Sabha passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) on Wednesday evening (11 December) after 125 MPs voted in its favour while 105 opposed it. The total votes cast were 230 with the majority mark being 116.
Backed by allies like AIADMK, SAD, JDU and other parties like BJD, TDP and YSRCP, it became a relatively easy battle for the BJP. It was also sort of helped by the Shiv Sena which staged a walkout.
The bill was already passed by the Lok Sabha on Monday (9 December) and after President Kovind’s ascent would turn into a law.
This bill will be a boon for persecuted minorities belonging to the Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Christian and Parsi community who have fled from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh to seek refuge in India. It will now become easier for them to avail Indian citizenship.
Many have pointed out that this bill would be a big step towards ensuring that India eventually becomes a natural home for all Hindus.
The CAB was one of the electoral promises of the BJP and was vehemently opposed by the opposition and section of journalists, some of whom decided to indulge in fearmongering and fake news.
The problem of Hindu refugees has been solved; now, deport the infiltrators : HJS
Thanks to the Central Govt. For passing ‘Citizenship Amendment Bill’
It was long pending demand of Hindu organisations like @HinduJagrutiOrg to provide Indian citizenship to persecuted minority Hindus in Islamic countries !
— HinduJagrutiOrg (@HinduJagrutiOrg) December 9, 2019
The Article 370 in Kashmir has been abrogated; the ‘National Register of Citizens’ (NRC) which has been implemented in Assam will be implemented throughout the country and the injustice done to Hindus for years together will be remedied. Now, the Modi Government has passed ‘Citizenship Amendment Bill’ (CAB) which would give Indian citizenship to Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Jain, Parsee refugees who have migrated from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. This decision is praiseworthy. Hindu Janajagruti Samiti welcomes the decision and thanks to the Central Government for displaying inclusiveness to refugee Hindus in the world. With this, the problem of migrants from foreign countries has been solved; however, the problem of more than 5 crore jihadi infiltrators from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Rohingyas who have intruded in the country remains to be solved. Due to these infiltrators, the additional burden on the scarce national resources has increased and serious threat to the national security has also been posed. Therefore, these infiltrators should be immediately deported from India, demanded Mr. Ramesh Shinde, National Spokesperson of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti.
Hindu Janajagruti Samiti has been raising voice from time to time against the atrocities being committed on Hindus in Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc. The issue was also raised through agitations held in the past. A resolution to this effect was passed in the All India Hindu Conventions being held every year and demand in this regard was submitted to the Government. Today, this demand has been fulfilled. The Hindu refugees all over the world were pleased with this decision and Hindu Janajagruti Samiti is also equally happy. We thank the Modi Government on behalf of Samiti, as well as, the ‘All India Hindu Convention’, said Mr. Ramesh Shinde.
Who gets the Indian Citizenship ?
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill proposes to grant citizenship to the non-Muslims Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhist, Jains and Parsis — from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who arrived in India before December 31, 2014.
In other words, the CAB paves way for Indian citizenship to lakhs of immigrants, who identify themselves with any of the given religions, even if they lacked any document to prove their residency. It also means that any immigrant who does not belong to the said communities would not be eligible for Indian citizenship.
Also, as per the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, any illegal immigrant from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who belongs to these said communities will not be deported or imprisoned if they are not carrying any valid documents for their residency in India.
Earlier, the duration of the immigrants’ residency was 11 years. The amended bill has reduced it to five years. This means that immigrants from the three countries and from the mentioned religions, who have entered India before December 31, 2014, would not be treated as illegal immigrants.
CAB exempts certain areas of North-East, OCI cardholders
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill exempts certain areas in the North-East from this provision.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill would not apply to tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura as included in Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and the area covered under the Inner Limit notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.
This effectively means that Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram along with almost whole of Meghalaya and parts of Assam and Tripura would stay out of the purview of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
Besides, the citizenship bill also makes amendments to provisions related to the Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cardholders.
As per the citizenship bill, a foreigner may register as an OCI under the 1955 Act if they are of Indian origin (e.g., former citizen of India or their descendants) or the spouse of a person of Indian origin.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill entitles the OCI cardholders to benefits such as the right to travel to India, and to work and study in the country. The Citizenship Bill, which was passed in the Rajya Sabha, amends the Act to allow cancellation of OCI registration if the person has violated any law notified by the Central government.
Busting the Myths Around Citizenship Amendment Bill
It violates Article 14 which talks of equality
- It is true that Article 14 establishes the concept of Equality Before Law and Equal Protection of Law, thus ensuring no one is discriminated on basis of religion. But there is an exception
- Article 14 makes provision for “reasonable classification” wherein the principle of equality is relaxed. Thus, the principle of affirmative action or positive discrimination is possible if the criteria for classification is reasonable
- All our policies for caste-based reservations, special rights to minorities in India are possible due to this reasonable classification
- Even the Supreme Court has underlined this concept. In the case of Ram Krishna Dalmia v. Justice S R Tendolkar, the Court said “It is now well established that while Article 14 forbids class legislation, it does not forbid reasonable classification for the purposes of legislation”
- It put forth the concept of “intelligible differentia” which distinguishes persons or things that are grouped together from others left out of the group, and one which has a rational relation to the object sought to be achieved by the statute in question.
- Moreover, In the case of Parisons Agrotech (P) Ltd. v. Union of India, the Apex Court held that the equality clause does not forbid geographical classification, provided the difference between the geographical units has a reasonable relation to the object sought to be achieved.
- Similarly, the persecuted minorities from these three nations form a reasonable classification, since all have faced systematic attacks, persecution and communal violence due to their presence in Islamic nations.
CAB is anti-Muslim/ It discriminates against Muslims
- Indian Muslims are in no way affected by this amendment. They are and will continue to enjoy all the benefits as legitimate Indian citizens. The bill deals with refugees who are foreign citizens.
- India does accept refugees who are Muslim. The process takes place under other acts like Foreigners Act, 1946 and the appropriate bodies are given powers to decide on the status of granting citizenship.
- India has also declared that any refugee entering India post 2015 shall be examined by the above mentioned acts irrespective of their religion
- A broader question to the political parties raking up this issue is- If you are pro-minority in India and that you believe in protection of minorities within India, then why is it that you oppose persecuted minorities from the neighborhood?
Muslims are also persecuted, and then why not allow Ahmediyas and Shias?
- There is a fundamental difference between persecuted religious minorities and ethnic violence
- Ahmediyas and Shias are victims of sectarian and ethnic violence which has nothing to do with religious persecution. Thus, they can’t be compared to persecuted religious minorities like Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians.
- Moreover, from a legal point of view, if we include cases of ethnic violence along with religious persecution, it cannot be called as “reasonable classification” and it will violate Article 14
Even the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) believes the bill is wrong
- The Ministry of External Affairs has clearly stated that such comments from USCIRF is neither accurate nor warranted, given that its past record is filled with comments on India’s religious freedom
- Moreover, it is intriguing that the topic under discussion- persecution of religious minorities in neighboring nations- has never attracted such grave “concern” from USCIRF nor has it issued any sensational statements calling for sanctions on a nation’s home minister.
- India and Indians shouldn’t consider the word of such bodies as gospel truth
Northeast India stands to suffer due to influx of non-local refugees
- The government has been sensitive to the needs of the Northeast people.
- CAB has a specific provision which excludes autonomous tribal regions under the Sixth Schedule. This means the areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram would be excluded
- Also, states with an Inner Line Permit are excluded. Inner Line Permit is required to entire states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram. Thus, persecuted refugees won’t be settled here.
- Moreover, Article 371 which provides special rights to Northeastern states will not be affected. The rights include usage of customary laws, land rights, rights of local bodies, local representation, etc.
Parliament doesn’t have powers to decide on the issue of citizenship
- The erroneous assumption is that it is the Constitution that decides on citizenship and the Parliament has no powers on the issue. Nothing can be far from reality.
- Article 11 of the Constitution says “Parliament to regulate the right of citizenship by law. Nothing in the foregoing provisions of this Part shall derogate from the power of Parliament to make any provision with respect to the acquisition and termination of citizenship and all other matters relating to citizenship”
- Even B.R. Ambedkar, the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constitution of India had said in a speech in Constituent Assembly that “It is not the object of this particular Article (Article 5, now Article 11) to lay down a permanent law of citizenship for the country. The business of laying down permanent law of citizenship has been left to the Parliament”
- Let us think logically. Citizenship is a very dynamic issue. Changing nature of the world requires a dynamic citizenship policy. Can a Constitution framed in 1949 have that much foresight to deal with issues of 21st century? Thus, the power is left to the Parliament since it is easy to introduce amendments with a simple majority
CAB is furthering the Two Nation Theory that divided India
- Far from furthering the Two Nation Theory, CAB protects the victims of the Two Nation Theory
- The religious minorities were left behind in declared Islamic nations with no where to go. They are the real victims of the hatred caused by Two Nation Theory
- It was the Congress that accepted Partition and by implication, the Two Nation Theory which created such cruel conditions for religious minorities.
- On the contrary, the Narendra Modi government is functioning on Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas Sabka Vishwas. It aims to take the Indian Muslims along with all others.
What happens to other refugees like Sri Lankan Tamils and Tibetans
- The government is clear that all other refugees would be dealt with under existing laws like Foreigners Act 1946 and the established process would be followed.
- CAB specifically focus on persecuted religious minorities. It doesn’t mean other class of refugees would be ignored.
Then why not apply the same principles to Rohingyas
- There are fundamental differences between Rohingyas and other refugees
- CAB is specifically for three nations- Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan- where the minorities bore the brunt of partition and hence are persecuted. Rohingyas don’t fall in this category
- Also, there are conclusive reports that Rohingyas are a threat to national security of India. Rohingyas have contacts with terrorist organizations like ISIS and LeT. How will India accept people who indulge in anti-India activity?
- Not just India, PM of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina is on record calling Rohingyas as a threat to national security.
Reference : The True Picture